Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Agnus-castus.

 Agnostic (An).Agnus Dei. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A shrub of the Vitex tribe, called agnos (chaste) by the Greeks, because the Athenian ladies, at the feast of Cers, used to strew their couches with vitex leaves, as a palladium of chastity. The monks, mistaking agnos (chaste) for agnus (a lamb), but knowing the use made of the plant, added castus to explain its character, making it chaste-lamb. (For another similar blunder, see I.H.S.)   1

 Agnostic (An).Agnus Dei. 


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